Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Good Nutrition, Good Economics

A study recently found that good nutrition for young children (infants and toddlers) affects their future earning potential. The study began in the 1970's looking at children in Guatemala. Researchers looked at these groups twenty and thirty years later as adults to determine the effects of a nutritional supplement program.

They found that the adult males in the group who had been given the supplement were earning 46% higher hourly wages than the others.

Surprisingly, however,
But surprisingly there was no similar divide in school performance or cognitive test scores.

Does this mean that good nutrition promotes physical strength which helped these men make more money and does nothing for intellectual ability? That seems highly unlikely, but why these results? Was there a reliable way of assessing school performance? What sort of cognitive testing was used?

On a final note, the researchers asserted that their study suggests that societies need to ensure that children are well fed for economic reasons.

"Improving nutrition in early childhood led to substantial increases in wage rates for men, which suggests that investments in early childhood nutrition can be long-term drivers of economic growth," they conclude.

It always comes down to money.

1 comment:

JM said...

I wonder about a round-about connection... I have read that nutrition affects well-being or perception of social wellness. In addition, I have read studies in which this well-being positively affects academic achievement. So this indirect connection might be where the more interesting results are hidden. You have inspired me to go back and reread these...